Ecomaine intern or staff member tagging a recycling bin during the organization’s curbside recycling education program. Courtesy photo

SCARBOROUGH — On June 10, ecomaine, a nonprofit waste facility, announced that due to the success of its curbside recycling education program, the outreach will expand to other Maine communities.

The town of Scarborough has been involved in ecomaine’s program as recently as last spring, along with Portland, South Portland, Westbrook and Yarmouth, ecomaine said. The success in each municipality has prompted the program’s growth.

“To provide greater public awareness of acceptable recycling materials, ecomaine hired staff in March to examine recycling and trash collection routes in areas of communities in Maine where data indicates levels of higher contamination and where municipal staff requested the program,” ecomaine said. “The staff review residents’ bins and provide educational feedback on the importance of recycling — and recycling properly.”

Ecomaine’s communications manager, Matt Grondin, said that the organization has seen the project’s popularity and impact increase.

“The next step is to determine how broad the need is, and how far we can increase the impact, based on what the data tell us and what we hear from our partners,” he said.

Scarborough previously participated in the program in 2019.

Under the program, recycling inspectors lift the lids of blue bins and tag each one with a corresponding color, red, yellow or green, depending on the level of contamination, ecomaine said.

“They then issue green tags for acceptable recyclables within the cart or bin, yellow tags for loads that have a handful of items that are not recyclable, and red tags for loads with too many items that cannot be recycled – including trash,” ecomaine said. “The bins with red tags are considered overly contaminated and increase costs for the municipality. Therefore, they will not be picked up by the collection company. The tags will identify item(s) that do not belong in the recycling cart.”

Contamination has been shown to have decreased in areas where the program was utilized, said the organization.

“The most recent program began in April in neighborhoods in Portland, Scarborough, South Portland, Westbrook, and Yarmouth, with data collected and analyzed weekly,” said ecomaine. “On average, through the project this spring, green tags have increased 52 percent, while yellow and red tags have decreased 62 percent and 69 percent, respectively.”

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